Wing and a prayer

WA’s shrinking black cockatoo population has stabilised, according to this year’s Great Cocky Count.

Two years ago the survey, which is carried out by more than 750 ‘citizen scientist’ volunteers, recorded an almost 50 per cent decline in black cockatoo numbers.

BirdLife coordinator Adam Peck says that despite the good news, “the long-term decline is still a great concern and shows we need to protect Black-Cockatoo habitat now more than ever.”

Ornithologists say the clearing of old forests have decimated black cockatoo numbers, as the large birds use them as nesting sites and mate for life.

Larges swathes of woodland have been cleared for bauxite strip mining, which is set to expand in the Darling Scarp as the state government lifts export caps and raw bauxite is exported directly to China.

• Margaret River artist Anita Revel, who’s just completed her arts degree, is getting some exposure and raising the profile of the black cocky’s plight with this mural on Market Street. It’s part of small business lobby group Freo Now’s efforts to jazz the city up and entice visitors. Photo by Steve Grant

An area nearly 700 times the size of Roe 8 has already been cleared, and about eight square kilometres is lost every year to facilitate global alumina production.

A senate enquiry recently visiting Perth was told that the ‘rehabilitation’ of disused bauxite mines is woefully insufficient, with Professor Kingsley Dixon saying that critical nesting hollows take about 250 to 500 years to form, and that “there is a clear need to protect old growth ecosystems”, instead of just doing mass tree plantings.

This year BirdLife Australia received US $300,000 from mining giant Alcoa to fund community education campaigns, on-ground habitat restoration and the Great Cocky Count from 2019 to 2021.

WA Forests Alliance campaign director Jess Beckerling said, “it is important for us all to remember that Alcoa is clearing hundreds of hectares of feeding and breeding habitat for endangered species every year…If Alcoa is truly serious about cockatoo conservation they will stop clearing the remaining habitat”.

by JUSTIN STAHL

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